“Garden planning is something that never ends. Every year we try something new or stop doing something that didn’t work so well the year before. Your garden journal, or garden log, should be a useful tool you add to each year and refer to on a regular basis.” ([sc name=byfarm Chapter 4)
There are many benefits to keeping a garden journal year to year if you track the right kind of information in it. Let your garden journal become your second brain so you can free yourself from trying to remember everything. Every garden journal is going to be a little different because everyone will put in it what they need to have but these are some thing you’ll probably want to include.
Notes for Next Year’s Garden
Akin to writing down your shopping list so you don’t forget everything you meant to pick up while you’re there, writing down your notes for next year can help you make the improvements you intended when the time is right. Perhaps you want to try a certain type of plant, grow more of a particular variety, or make any changes in the following year. These yearly notes will come in handy the next year when you start planning your garden.
Garden Planning and Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is a common practice to help control garden pests and diseases, and prevent overtaxing of the soil. But while you might remember what you planted where last year, it isn’t likely you’ll remember what you planted where the year before that. Keeping track with a simple diagram in your garden journal can help solve that problem very simply. You’ll be able to track where your crops are planted each year and avoid planting crops from the same family in the same space without a couple years break in between.
And when winter is cold and keeping you indoors you can have a lot of fun planning your garden. Some gardeners I know clip pictures from seed catalogs or paste their seed packets into the garden journal to create a garden design that is visual and colorful. I prefer to sketch my ideas in pencil drawings. But the inspiration of designing in the garden journal is so rewarding!
Seed Germination, Varieties, and Sources
When you’re growing plants from seed it is so helpful to track your germination rates from the various seed companies you might use. You should also make note of the specific varieties you plant, so that you’ll be able to replant them (or try new ones) in the following seasons. Keeping a seed log as part of your garden journal will help yo select the most productive and useful (or most delicious!) varieties again the next year!
Tracking your successes (or failures) and the other happenings in your garden will help you become more and more productive each year. No one knows everything about gardening or has complete successes in every area, so jotting down what happens and when can help you adjust your plan in the following year. You can download a set of free garden journal pages from Backyard Farming Guide to get started this year or pick up a copy of the Mom Prepares Garden Journal!